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Show of force

Agence France-Presse



JAYLEN Brown nails 21 points to lead the Boston Celtics past the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-94. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BOSTON CELTICS

MIAMI (AFP) — Defending champions Toronto Raptors pummeled the Brooklyn Nets while the Boston Celtics had to claw past a determined Philadelphia on Friday, both taking commanding 3-0 series leads in the NBA playoffs.

Pascal Siakam scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and handed out five assists to lead the Raptors to a 117-92 victory over the Nets.

Toronto connected on 50.5 percent of their shots from the field and 47.8 percent from three-point range.

Kyle Lowry came up just short of a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for a Raptors team that can clinch a second round berth in Game 4 on Sunday.

“We’re just taking it a possession at a time,” Lowry said. “We can’t focus on anything else. Closeout games are always the toughest. We know they’re not going to lay down.”

Tyler Johnson led the Nets with 23 points, Caris LeVert added 15 and Chris Chiozza chipped in 14 off the bench, but as in Toronto’s Game 1 blowout win, Brooklyn never led.

The Celtics are also in control against the 76ers, although they had to battle a struggling but determined Philadelphia side to close out a 102-94 victory.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Jaylen Brown added 21 as the Celtics withstood a 30-point, 13-rebound performance from Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Josh Richardson and Shake Milton added 17 points apiece and Tobias Harris scored 15 with 15 rebounds for Philadelphia, which connected on just 29.5 percent of its shots from the floor but kept itself in it with hustle.

The Sixers out-rebounded the Celtics, 57-45, and scored 20 second-chance points to Boston’s nine.

“Defensively, we did what we needed to do to win a game,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

“Offensively, the quantity of misses is hard to overcome.”

Jayson Tatum added 15 points for Boston after averaging 32.5 over the first two games. He was limited by early foul trouble that saw him sit out all of the second quarter.

But Tatum came up with a key block of Embiid that led to the go-ahead basket late in the fourth quarter as Boston closed the game on a 10-0 scoring run.

Brown said the Sixers are well aware that no NBA team has rallied to win a playoff series after trailing 0-3.

Despite their dire situation, Embiid said he was focused on winning Game 4 on Sunday.

“I don’t want to be swept,” Embiid said.

“I don’t want that in my resume.”

In Western Conference action, the Utah Jazz cruised past the Denver Nuggets, 124-87, taking a 2-1 series lead with their second straight lopsided win.